If This Life Were All

If This Life Were All

William MacDonald

Did you ever stop to think how you would spend your life if you were sure there was nothing beyond the grave? If you could be absolutely certain that there was no resurrection, that there was no heaven or hell, how then would you use whatever remaining years you might have on earth?

Obviously you would conclude that because this is the only life there is, you should make the most of it and live it to the hilt.

You would have no thought of repentance toward God or of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, because such faith would be useless if there were no resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:17).

You would probably choose a career that pays very well and yet demands as little of your time as possible.

You would want to take those fabulous vacations that are advertised in the magazines, and enjoy as many worldly pleasures as you could—music, art, drama, athletics, and society.

You would try to obtain the most fashionable home you could afford—the latest word in the “better homes” magazines and, of course, you would furnish it with the best in appliances and automatic gadgets. No expense would be too great.

You would cater to yourself as to automobiles. Doubtless you would want several—again with the most luxurious appointments.

You would lavish good clothes upon yourself. After all, you deserve the best, and if this life is all, why not enjoy it to the full?.

As to foods, you would eat the finest, being especially careful to patronize only the more expensive restaurants. To pay $4 or $5 for a meal would cause you no pang of conscience.

And perhaps you might not think so, but if you knew there were no resurrection, you would doubtless want the very best liquors with your meals. Overindulgence would be permissible.

You would cultivate the friendship of those who would help you get ahead in the world, and, in general, be interested in others only in so far as it was to your own advantage.

You would want to marry young and drink the cup of marital pleasure to the full. Love would be a matter of receiving, not giving.

You would try to set some money aside for your future retirement and, if possible, a little bank account to leave to your children.

Yes, you would want to do all this, and a lot more besides. “…if the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Perhaps some will protest that they would still rather live the Christian life even if they knew that death ended it all. But the Scripture flatly refutes such a position when it says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Apart from the sure knowledge of a resurrection, we should live selfishly and sinfully.

But does it not follow that because there is a resurrection, we cannot live in the manner outlined above? That is certainly the only logical conclusion.

Because there is life after death, we must repent of our sins and commit our lives unreservedly to the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30, 31).

Because the dead do rise, I cannot choose a lucrative and easy career. My career must be to glorify God and help my neighbour, and my job is only a means of accomplishing that end.

Luxurious vacations are seen as positively sinful when a world is perishing at our doors. And the pleasures of sin lose their appeal against the pleasure of doing God’s will.

Expensive homes, wall-to-wall carpeting, costly furnishings and fixtures are seen to violate the role of pilgrimage which should mark Christ’s disciples now.

The brilliant chrome-work of my several new cars would reproach me every time I thought of men perishing for want of the knowledge of the Saviour. “Some men have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Because the dead do rise, I cannot waste money on expensive food and clothing when there is such need among the Lord’s servants.

In short, those who believe that this life is only “training time for reigning time” must live devotedly, unselfishly, yieldedly, dependently. They must look upon themselves as stewards, using material things for the Lord’s glory and for man’s blessing. They must be willing to forego marriage, if that be the Lord’s will, and to hold all human relationships in subordination to the Lordship of Christ. They must not lay up treasures upon the earth, but must rather sell all that they have and give to the poor, looking to the Lord continually for the supply of their needs.

The tragedy of Christianity to day is that those of us who profess to believe in the resurrection are living as if there were none. We are reigning as if we were kings instead of serving as slaves. We are spending selfishly instead of sending sacrificially. We are feasting instead of fasting, and parading instead of praying.

May the Lord awaken us before the resurrection we have always professed to believe in becomes a reality and we realize its solemn implications too late!